With cities being key factors to societal transformation, The Resilient, Inclusive, Smart and Safe (RISS) Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) project aimed at creating safer, more inclusive and more climate resilient public spaces was launched across the Caribbean.
The United Nations (UN) Women project, meant to address several challenges associated with the rapid urbanisation of urban spaces, was showcased at United Nations House, Marine Gardens yesterday.
UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, outlined the importance of the initiative, saying that more than half of the Caribbean’s population lived in urban centres, with this number continuing to climb.
He said that it was important to incorporate climate resilience policy in urban development planning, adding that 70 per cent of Caribbean people live at or near sea level, with almost all cities and major infrastructure being within one mile of the sea.
Reinforcing the need for further planning initiatives, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Professor Michelle Mycoo, explained that the level of urbanisation in the Caribbean was high, with approximately 72 per cent of its population living in urban areas in 2020, and as much as 80 per cent projected to live in cities by 2050.
According to Mycoo, this rapid urbanisation also came with a myriad of issues that added to the contribution of social and gender inequity which threatened many vulnerable groups in society.
“Repairing old infrastructure and providing new infrastructure has resulted in infrastructural deficits affecting large segments of the urban and peri-urban population which have limited access to a reliable water supply, sewerage disposal facilities, adequate drainage and transportation services. Unreliable and inadequate infrastructural services endanger public health and safety, but especially low-income households that have fewer options to gain access to these services,” she said.
Trebucq commended UN Women and its partners for creating an initiative that supported policies to invest in preventing large scale disasters and reducing vulnerabilities.
“Today, it is my hope that this launch will leverage economic opportunities for women and other marginalised individuals of the Caribbean; opportunities which are climate responsive. Even beyond, I hope it enhances the capacities of urban planners, CSOs, the private sector to implement gender-resilient urban planning and management approaches,” he said. (JK)